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Managing Bottlenecks and Hotspots

Managing Bottlenecks and Hotspots
31 March 2016 John Moore

Every month, I run a LIVE Webinar called ‘3 Practical Tools That Will Transform Your Productivity & Improve Performance’. During the Webinar, I talk about three performance improvement tools, but the one I get asked most about is Bottlenecks and Hotspots.

Great Leaders in Business

Having worked with some truly great Leaders in Business, I have noticed that all Leaders in Business are adept at identifying and managing what I call “bottlenecks and hotspots”. The first thing they do different from your average manager is they identify problems, and analyse the ‘root cause’ of problems. Secondly, they take action and implement plans to eliminate or mitigate the bottlenecks and hotspots.


A bottleneck occurs in a process when inputs arrive faster than the process is able to convert them into outputs. Inputs can include data and information, products or raw materials, customers or even man-hours. Outputs can be part completed or completed products.

Bottlenecks occur in every organisation. Everyone involved in the process where bottlenecks occur know where they are and usually know why they occur and yet every day, every week, every month or every year, the same unchanged process is used. What do you think happens – yes you guessed it, another bottleneck.

Are you Insane?

It was Albert Einstein who said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. On that basis, people working in businesses throughout the world must be insane!

In a company I used to work, every new financial year managers did not get a set of management accounts for the first three accounting periods – 3 months. Why? The finance team was ‘busy’ preparing the end of year accounts. I was always baffled by this because the team knew months in advance that the workload would be too much, but they never implemented plans to anticipate and address the bottleneck.

You may find this amusing, but bottlenecks occur everywhere. At Christmas, despite knowing 12 months in advance when Christmas is, millions of people leave making arrangements and buying (and wrapping) presents until they are short of time. When confronted with too little time, their time to think is squeezed and they buy almost first thing they see only to disappoint family and friends when they open their unwanted gift.

It may not be filled with the same level of manic excitement, but I shop online in October and then enjoy strolling around decorated shops with my family – often stopping for a delicious mince pie and coffee.

Imagine if you could think ahead and put in place arrangements to overcome your bottlenecks at work. Is it just possible that you could improve everyone’s performance and eliminate a lot of stress and frustration?

What is a ‘Hotspot’?

Hotspots are related to bottlenecks, but often have more severe consequences. A hotspot exists where the probability of a problem occurring is high and the impact of that problem is significant. Unlike bottlenecks where you know they will occur, you cannot be 100 per cent sure with hotspots. What you do know is that when a hotspots occurs, X happens!

The fall out and impact following a ‘hotspot’ event is often dramatic and wide ranging. I have known people to lose their jobs and others to resign because of a massive hotspot event. People get stressed; people make bad decisions; people’s performance is compromised.

Free Tool & Live Webinar

Rather than tell you all about bottlenecks and hotspots here, why not download our FREE Tool, Bottleneck and Hotspot Management. Even better, why not book a place on this month’s ‘3 Practical Tools That Will Transform Your Productivity & Improve Performance‘ LIVE Webinar where I will share more insights and tips for improving productivity and performance.

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.


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